Cross-country Mountain Bike World Cup : Absalon achieves his goal

The Olympic Champion, Julien Absalon, has won at Houffalize for the first time. It is the French rider’s 13th World Cup win and he logically takes the lead in the overall standings.

Nino Schurter made a big impression with his second place, the best result of his career. Christoph Sauser also put in a great performance to take third place.

You really need to search the history books to find a French victory at Houffalize. Indeed, since Christophe Dupouey’s win in 1999, no Frenchman has raised his arms in victory in the world’s cross-country capital.

Before the start, Julien Absalon (Orbea) did not hide his affection for the race. “This is the mountain bikers’ Kitzbühel,” he said, referring to the skiing World Cup leg in Austria, which bewitches the specialists. Since his overall World Cup win in 2003, most international mountain bike events have been a walkover for Julien Absalon. Very few races are out of his reach.

Last year’s winner, Spanish champion José Hermida, took things in his stride from the outset of the race. A group of six riders followed behind the Merida Multivan rider. Ravanel (Lapierre), Peraud, Julien Absalon (Orbea) Vogel and Schurter (Swisspower MTB Team) together with Roel Paulissen (Cannondale Vredestein) formed the leading group.

However, Absalon was rearing to go and did not wait long to take command of the race. The French rider has already said that Nino Schurter (Under-23 World Cup winner last year) should be the discipline’s next boss. And that was confirmed during the first kilometers of the race. The Vice World Champion gave the current world boss of cross country a hard time. Even though he was in the lead, Absalon was unable to shake off Schurter completely. Thirty seconds, then forty… after two hours and nearly seven minutes, Julien Absalon became the third French rider (after Martinez and Dupouey) to take out the Belgian classic. With his 13th victory, he closes the gap on Thomas Frischknecht’s record of 17 victories.

Christoph Sauser (Specialised) finished third while fourth place went to the Under-23 World Champion, Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale Vredestein), the best result of his career.

Next week the World Cup stops in Offenburg, Germany. Last year, Julien Absalon was victorious. But watch out for the competition…..


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